Hospital officials in Japan have confirmed that former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe died after he was shot during a campaign speech in Western Japan Friday morning.
Abe, Japan's longest-serving prime minister, was shot twice from behind while speaking to a crowd on the streets of Nara on Friday. Abe was delivering a campaign speech ahead of an election for the parliament's upper house this Sunday.
Video footage posted to social media shows Abe speaking when a loud bang erupted, and smoke began to rise from behind the former Prime Minister. The first shot, however, missed the former prime minister, who paused and turned around only to get shot at again seconds later. The second shot struck Abe in the chest, causing him to collapse to the ground. His security then tackled and arrested the gunman, later identified as 41-year-old Tetsuya Yamagami. According to the Japanese outlet NHK World News, a police officer retrieved a gun at the scene that is believed to be homemade.
Yamagami, who served in the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) for three years, reportedly told police that he was dissatisfied with the former prime minister and sought to assassinate him.
According to Fox News, Abe was left unconscious and in cardiac arrest after being shot. He was taken to a hospital for treatment but later succumbed to his injuries.
Doctor Fukushima Hidetada of Nara Medical University told NHK World News that a team of more than twenty doctors spent four hours trying to save Abe's life.
"We tried to resuscitate him, but, unfortunately, he died at 5:03 pm," he said.
Japan's current Prime Minister, Fumio Kishida, condemned Friday's attack, calling it "dastardly and barbaric."
"This despicable, barbaric act that took place in the midst of an election, the very foundation of democracy, cannot be tolerated. We condemn this attack in the strongest possible terms."
Abe was Japan's first prime minister born after World War II. He initially served from 2006 to 2007 and again from 2012 to 2020. He resigned from the PM position in 2020 due to a chronic condition called ulcerative colitis.
A conservative and a nationalist, Abe is remembered for strengthening Japanese-U.S. ties and his "Abenomics" policies which sought to grow the country's economy despite declining birth rates and a rapidly aging population.
"I will break down any and all walls looming ahead of the Japanese economy and map out a new trajectory for growth. This is precisely the mission of Abenomics," he said of the programs.
His Liberal Democratic Party — Japan's center-right political party, sought to return to a militarized Japan for years in response to surrounding hostile countries such as China and North Korea.
Fox News reports that world leaders have paid tribute to Abe following his death.
"I am deeply saddened by the tragic assassination of former Prime Minister Abe Shinzo, who was a great friend of the United States and whose leadership took the U.S.-Japan alliance to new heights. We share our deepest condolences with his family and the people of Japan." said U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken.
I am deeply saddened by the tragic assassination of former Prime Minister Abe Shinzo, who was a great friend of the United States and whose leadership took the U.S.-Japan alliance to new heights. We share our deepest condolences with his family and the people of Japan.— Secretary Antony Blinken (@SecBlinken) July 8, 2022
"His global leadership through unchartered times will be remembered by many. My thoughts are with his family, friends and the Japanese people," U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted.
Incredibly sad news about Shinzo Abe.— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) July 8, 2022
His global leadership through unchartered times will be remembered by many. My thoughts are with his family, friends and the Japanese people.
The UK stands with you at this dark and sad time.
Former President Donald Trump reacted to the former prime minister's death in a post on his social media platform Truth Social.
"Few people know what a great man and leader Shinzo Abe was, but history will teach them and be kind," he said. "He was a unifier like no other, but above all, he was a man who loved and cherished his magnificent country, Japan. Shinzo Abe will be greatly missed. There will never be another like him!"
President Joe Biden also shared his grief over Abe's murder, writing on Twitter, "I am stunned, outraged, and deeply saddened by the news that my friend Abe Shinzo, former Prime Minister of Japan, was shot and killed. He was a champion of the friendship between our people. The United States stands with Japan in this moment of grief."
I am stunned, outraged, and deeply saddened by the news that my friend Abe Shinzo, former Prime Minister of Japan, was shot and killed. He was a champion of the friendship between our people.— President Biden (@POTUS) July 8, 2022
The United States stands with Japan in this moment of grief.
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Pool
Milton Quintanilla is a freelance writer and content creator. He is a contributing writer for Christian Headlines and the host of the For Your Soul Podcast, a podcast devoted to sound doctrine and biblical truth. He holds a Masters of Divinity from Alliance Theological Seminary.